After GC2018, this is the only decathlon you need
The line-up for GC2018 was bigger than Ben Hur, with the largest medal event program and the most number of sessions ever seen at a Commonwealth Games. Ever.
From athletics to badminton, hockey to swimming and weightlifting to mountain biking, the Gold Coast was the epicentre of 18 sports and seven para-sports as 70 nations compete for glory.
But rather than becoming a couch-bound patriot, go for gold with this decathlon of outdoor experiences and events in Queensland.
Diving (sans speedos)
Commonwealth Games divers displayed acrobatic excellence while leaping from platforms of up to 10 metres, but in Tropical North Queensland you can take it to a whole new level with a 50-metre plunge at Australia’s only bungy experience – AJ Hackett Cairns. With a menu of 16 different jump styles including everything from a swan dive to a rooftop or BMX jump on the offer, you can work your way up to the perfect 10 score.
1500m freestyle (turtle-pace)
Leave the SKINS and running shoes at home and feel the sand between your toes with a leisurely stroll around Lady Elliott Island. The island has a circumference of approximately 1500m and is home to some of the best sights Queensland has to offer. If you’re there at the right time of year you may even share the sand with hundreds of tiny turtle hatchlings as they make their way out to sea.
Five kilometres of new and upgraded trails have just been opened in Nerang National Park, ready to be put to the test after the Commonwealth’s best hurtle along the Nerang Mountain Bike Trails. But up in Tropical North Queensland, you can go for gold of a different kind on a half-day tour along the historic Goldfield Trail with Tropic Rides. It might be all lush rainforest along the banks of the East Mulgrave River now but back in the 1930s this trail was used solely by the prospectors who sifted through its waters for gold.
Powerlifting tonight’s dinner
Chalk up those hands and brace your core, you’re going to want to use your legs for powerlifting, North Queensland style. When you’re on a fishing charter out of Townsville with the guys from G and T Fishing School and Charters, you’ll need all your strength to reel in the giant barramundi and mangrove jack that lurk in the estuaries.
They might only grow to 30cm long but these lightweights of the sea are quicker than a bullet with a right-hander that can shatter glass. Throwing the fastest punch of any animal in the world, the tiny but mighty mantis shrimp can be seen boxing up a storm under the sea at Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium in Townsville. Don’t stand too close!
Reef swimming (because we are girt by the sea)
Since the Aussies dominated the 50m pool at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, what could be better than stroking through salty brine under a glorious sun? Challenge yourself in the Quicksilver Reef Swim – Green Island, part of the Cairns Airport Adventure Festival, and instead of following a black painted line, you’ll swim amongst coral gardens and abundant marine life.
Roll up, roll up
Lawn bowls was as vital to the Commonwealth Games as Vegemite is to toast, having been a core sports list since the inaugural edition of the Games in 1930 (back then called the British Empire Games). You can roll up with a game of barefoot bowls in the white-soled footsteps of Commonwealth competitors at the Broadbeach Bowls Club most days of the week (a steal at $7 per head) but out in Goomeri – roughly four hours north-west of the Gold Coast – is where you can really test your skills. Here, the main street becomes the green and the bowls are pumpkins bigger than your head. With Pumpkin Power Shot Put also on the competition schedule, the biennial Goomeri Pumpkin Festival is basically the Organic Commonwealth Games.
While the Southport Broadwater Parklands made for a pretty damn epic start and finish line for the triathlon events at GC2018, swim, ride and run your way north to Cairns in June and you’ll be able to compete in the Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns. Taking in the stupendous vistas of the Great Barrier Reef Drive and providing the chance to tick off reef, rainforest and the beating heart of Cairns in the one massive event, you may not win gold for your country but you could win one of 75 qualifying slots for Kailua-Kona.
Not quite up to Commonwealth Games standard? Brisbane By Bicycle worry less about who makes it over the finish line first and more about the prettiest spot to pull up for a mid-ride picnic. Opt to join their popular Morning Tour, a short Afternoon Tour, Twilight Tour to watch the city come to life, or work up an appetite with their Eat Street Markets Tour (you don’t even have to cycle back afterwards, with a River Cruise included).
Aerial slam dunk
Why just shoot some hoops when you can combine two of the Commonwealth Games’ hottest events – gymnastics and basketball – in one at Air Factory Trampoline Park on the Gold Coast? Once you’ve bounced, twisted and flipped your way to the perfect 10 in the Park Air zone, make like Mike (with a little help from the trampolines) in the Slam Dunk zone and hang off that ring like a gold medallist.